‘One day I will make it to university’: Students from Refugee Backgrounds in University Pathway Programs


  • Snjezana Bilic
  • Teresa Thai


students from refugee backgrounds; pathway programs; culturally responsive


Australian universities have received an increasing number of students from refugee backgrounds (SfRBs) over the last few decades. However, programs adapted for the successful transition of this cohort remain relatively scarce. Therefore, there is a critical need for programs and strategies supporting SfRBs meaningful participation and success in their studies. This empirical paper reports on a project conducted at UniSA College. The research explores cultural and learning experiences of SfRBs in a university pathway program. This paper utilises data from a student survey, focus group, and interviews conducted with Peer Support Officers to explore students' aspirations, challenges they face and recommendations for the university and the enabling pathway program. The findings highlight that despite aspiring to obtain university qualifications, SfRBs encounter serious barriers including challenges associated with English language proficiency, as well as with navigating university and academic culture, managing family and work commitments whilst facing social exclusion and racism. For successful engagement of SfRBs education institutions need an all-encompassing approach consisting of culturally responsive efforts and peer-led support systems for students.



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